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East Hartford criminal defense lawyer for state and federal chargesThe United States Constitution gives citizens dozens of rights that are indicative of the spirit and history of the country, such as the right to free speech, the right to peacefully protest, and the right to bear arms. These rights are contained in the first ten Amendments, called the Bill of Rights, and they are constantly being analyzed in different contexts by scholars, lawmakers, and the members of the U.S. Supreme Court. One of these rights is the protection against double jeopardy, or being tried for the same crime more than once. This has been an issue that has wedged its way into the Supreme Court more than once and that has held precedent for many years.

Understanding Dual Sovereignty and Double Jeopardy

The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution contains a variety of protections and rights given to citizens concerning criminal trials. One of these protections is from what is known as “double jeopardy” or being tried for the same crime twice. Originally, the Fifth Amendment was only meant to apply to the federal government, but over the years, the Supreme Court has ruled that it also applies to state governments.

The issue that the Supreme Court has faced again and again is whether or not a person can be tried for the same instance of a crime in both state and federal courts. For many years, the Supreme Court has upheld that a person can, in fact, be tried in both state and federal courts for the same instance of a crime because the state government and federal government are technically two different jurisdictions or “sovereigns.” This is known as the dual sovereignty doctrine.

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Hartford criminal law attorney police interrogationIf you are arrested because you are suspected of committing a crime, there are certain procedures that must be followed. Before police can begin to interrogate you or ask you questions, they are required to read you your rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. These rights, known as Miranda Rights, include your right to remain silent or not incriminate yourself, your right to an attorney (or if you cannot afford an attorney, your right to have an attorney appointed for you at no cost), and your right to have your attorney present before you answer any questions.

Protecting the Constitutional rights of citizens has always been of great importance to both the federal government and individual state governments. Because of this, supreme courts often hear cases that assert that people were wrongly convicted of a crime because their Constitutional rights were violated. This is exactly the case in a recent appeals case heard by the Connecticut Supreme Court.

The Right to an Attorney During Interrogation

Earlier this month, the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled on State v. Purcell, a case concerning a man arrested on sexual assault charges who was denied counsel after he made repeated, though indirect, statements about having an attorney present. The man was convicted of three counts of risk of injury to a child and received a sentence of 16 years in prison, suspended after 9 years, plus 10 years of probation. The man appealed the conviction, but the appellate court upheld the decision.

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liability, Connecticut personal injury attorneysAccording to the calendar, winter is still two weeks away, but many parts of the country have already experienced snowfalls. With winter weather, of course, comes the danger of snow and ice on the roadways. Local municipalities often struggle to keep the roads clear for safe travel. At the state level, the Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT) is responsible for clearing state highways and interstates. Unfortunately, however, accidents are not uncommon when roads are covered by snow or ice. Under Connecticut law, it is possible to take legal action against CTDOT for negligence, but a ruling by the state Supreme Court recently limited how far the Department’s liability extends.

A Weather-Related Accident

In 2011, a man was seriously hurt in an early-morning accident on the Gold Star Memorial Bridge between New London and Groton. The pickup truck he was driving slid on ice, rolled, and crashed into the structure of the bridge. The man’s accident was just one of many that day.

Court records indicate that the state police had started making calls to CTDOT an hour before the man’s crash, requesting a salt truck from the department’s fleet. With the salt truck still about an hour away, the state police did not shut down the bridge until later that morning—after the man was injured.

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apartment, Hartford criminal defense attorneyIn the realm of criminal law, the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides one of the most basic rights afforded to citizens of this country. The Fourth Amendment states that an individual’s right to security regarding his or her person, home, and belongings may not be violated by unreasonable searches and seizures. It further specifies that a warrant for a search by the government shall only be issued when probable cause exists and is supported by a sworn or affirmed statement.

While the rights guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment sound simple enough in theory, the definition of an unreasonable search or seizure has been consistently debated for nearly two and half centuries since the amendment’s ratification. Recently, the Connecticut Supreme Court added another chapter to the discussion as it issued its ruling on a case involving a drug-sniffing dog working in the hallway of an apartment complex.

Different Rights for Different Homes?

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identification, Hartford criminal defense attorneyEven if you have never been inside a courtroom for a criminal trial, you have probably seen dramatized versions in movies and on television. As such, you are likely familiar with the concept of a courtroom identification. While a witness—often the alleged victim or an eyewitness to the crime—is being questioned, he or she is asked by the district attorney a question along the lines of “Is the person who committed this offense present in the courtroom today?” If the response is affirmative, the witness is then asked to point out that individual for the record.

New Guidelines

Last week, the Connecticut Supreme Court handed down a ruling that places a limit on such in-court identifications. Going forward, the state must notify the court that a witness will be identifying a suspect in court for the first time, without having identified the suspect via a photo-lineup or other, non-suggestive manner prior to trial. The presiding judge is only permitted to allow a first-time identification in court if “there is no factual dispute as to the identity of the perpetrator, or the ability of the particular eyewitness to identify the defendant is not at issue.”

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